Category Archives: Well-being

Accommodation for Yoga Weekends

We will arrange the accommodation for you in one of these lovely holiday cottages, most within walking distance of Saddle Street Farm. There are a variety of bedrooms with shared kitchen, bathroom, sitting room, garden or patio. We stock the fridge with simple breakfast items, milk, tea/coffee etc., and there’s a fantastic village shop for everything else.

If you prefer to be more self-contained, you can select the B&B option and we will put you in touch with your host to arrange arrival times and get directions – all are very easy to find.

The cottages are for 2 nights. If you’re coming for Saturday only, we have a single (The Tack Room) and a twin (The Apple Loft) at Saddle Street Farm. These are in the Studio, with shared kitchen and shower room. Please ask. Or check the B&B options below.

 The Forge, Yew Tree Farm, Saddle Street. TA20 4PY
(200 yards from Saddle Street Farm)

The ForgeThis lovely little self –catering cottage has a double room upstairs and a large sofa-bed in the open plan downstairs kitchen/sitting room. Both share a shower room. Ideally suited for a group of friends (max 4) or a couple who want to be independent.
£90 per person (minimum 2 people) for 2 nights, Friday & Saturday.

2 bedroom cottage in Thorncombe TA20 4PP
(10 minute walk from Saddle Street Farm.)
CazA self-catering cottage that sleeps up to 4 in a double room and a twin room with a shared bathroom. The cottage has a sitting room with wood burner, dining area with door to the garden & a kitchen. First floor: 2 bedrooms, one double, the other 2 singles. The bathroom has a bath with shower.
For 2 nights, Friday & Saturday:
Single room: £130 (shared bathroom).
Double/Twin room: £115 per person (shared bathroom).
Whole cottage for two people: £240.
Whole cottage for three
 people: £275.



Rebecca3 bedroom cottage in Thorncombe TA20 4PZ
(5 minute walk from Saddle Street Farm.)
A self-catering cottage that sleeps up to 5 in two double rooms and a single room. Downstairs is the living room with wood burner & wooden floor, kitchen, dining room/conservatory opening onto the garden, single bedroom, bathroom with separate shower, bath & toilet. Stairs lead to two double bedrooms, one with TV and en-suite toilet.
For 2 nights, Friday and Saturday:
Single room: £135 (shared bathroom).
Double room: £130 single/ £90 per person sharing (shared bathroom).
Double room with toilet: £140 single/ £95 per person sharing

B&B at Oathill Farm, Clapton TA18 4PZ
(10 minute drive from Saddle Street Farm.)
Tel: 01460 30234

OathillFarmDouble, twin and family rooms in an old farmhouse, with television and tea /coffee facilities available in every room. The rooms are ‘quaint’ and only some have en-suite facilities. BUT Oathill has its own spring water (supply quality tested and safe to drink) and Solar panels assist in the water heating. The owners are very friendly and helpful, and serve a traditional (non-vegan) farmhouse breakfast in the dining room overlooking the country garden. There are also lots of animals!

£45 sharing/ £65 single per person per night (shared bathroom).
£65 sharing/£75 single per person per night (en suite).

B&B, Drimpton, Dorset DT8 3RH
(10 minute drive from Saddle Street Farm)
Tel: 01308 867313

ChapelEndTwo large double bedrooms sharing a private bathroom, with TV, tea and coffee making facilities in each. Farmhouse breakfast to suit any taste. Please let them know if you have any special dietary needs.

£45 sharing/ £60 single per person per night.


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Filed under Iyengar, Mindfulness, Well-being, yoga weekends

Ten thoughts for ten days.

Take each of these quotes from BKS Iyengar and think about it for a day. Live with it, play with it, daydream with it. I’ve put some of my thoughts beneath each one. Let me know what they mean to you…..

1. ‘Giving does not impoverish. With-holding does not enrich.’

Money is energy – it can only flow smoothly through an open purse.

2. ‘Health is not a commodity to be bargained for. It has to be earned through sweat.’

Taking care of yourself can be demanding.

happyandunselfish3. ‘Regular practice of yoga can help you face the turmoil of life with steadiness and stability.’

What are the two key words in this quote?

4. ‘Unless people learn to differentiate between the essentials and non-essentials, peace will always elude them’.

Look to Nature for examples of what’s essential. Peace, and the lack of it, is determined by the degree to which we cling to everything else. 

5. ‘Self-culture begins only when you are completely engrossed in what you are doing’.

Commit to something, for its own sake, and the doing becomes its own reward.

6. ‘Fear and fatigue block the mind. Confront both squarely, then courage and confidence will flow into you’.

Feel the fear. Do you need to rest first, or do it anyway?

7. ‘Do not stop trying just because perfection eludes you’.

Details matter, and perfection is in the detail.

8. ‘Persistent practice alone is the key to yoga’.

Nothing comes from nothing.

9. ‘The ocean is the self, the waves are the thoughts. The self is silent – the thoughts make noise.’

Make space every day for stillness.

10. ‘If you are happy, pleasant, and unselfish in your behavior towards others, obstacles will shrink. If you are miserly with your emotions and judgmental in your mind, obstacles will grow.’

One of the hardest to master – I find Facebook is a good place to practice this one!

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Iyengar and Ashtanga Yoga.

Men & Yoga7
The philosophy behind Yoga is vast. It’s practically impossible for a Western person to embrace the beauty and subtlety of it all in just a single lifetime. If you practice yoga regularly, you may have had glimpses of your own inner potential, your natural spirituality. In order to explore that potential further, it’s useful to have a framework, or a map to guide you.

People usually start coming to yoga classes for reasons of fitness, health, flexibility but they find there’s another benefit, one that can’t be described, only experienced. When they come out of a class, everything is the same but something is different. The discomfort and stress in our brains is diminished, mental noise and emotional instability have been replaced by a quiet stability. What is it about yoga, specifically, that does that? And how does that lead to spiritual transformation?

Most of life is an accident that happens to us. We all have commitments, family issues and financial constraints, health problems. Things happen to us, some good, some bad, and we live with the imprint of these accidents for the rest of our lives. For richer or poorer, no one is immune. At times life is extremely uncomfortable, painful and stressful.

BKS Iyengar famously said that, “Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” In this quote, he’s talking not just about the body, but the mind and the emotions too.

He also said that health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. “When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.” How can both those statements be true?

hall-of-positivityFirst we must cure what we can and the framework for this is found in the first two of the eight limbs of yoga: the Yamas and Niyamas. The first sets out a series of restraints in order that we might do the minimum amount of damage to others and to ourselves. Then we are encouraged observe and discipline ourselves. The reasoning behind this is very sensible – social justice is better for everybody and natural law encourages us to create a climate around ourselves that is comfortable for us and for others. And self discipline is the key.

Having put our house in order, the third limb suggests we focus on what we can do to counteract the natural physical, mental and emotional stresses of life through Asana practice. Asana means “seat”. When we practice we are developing our inner climate, one which is comfortable and supportive for the spirit. Sometimes the practice is for the body, sometimes for the brain, or the emotions, or the mind. We practice so that somewhere within any one of the asanas, we can find a moment of equilibrium. The asana needs to be physically comfortable, and with skilful teaching (as you find in RIMYI), if we ‘cannot do’ we find a method or a prop to provide that stability so that we can ‘go inside’.

Eight LimbsWith these first three basic steps, we can cure what need not be endured. The reason we continue to practice is that life goes on, some problems come and go, but some stay and must be endured. We do everything we can to create a harmonious, balanced, protected and receptive climate within and around the physical body from which we can access the spiritual body. It’s not dependent on how many postures you can do or how ‘well’ you can do them. But can you use them to create the freedom from physical and mental distractions and go further, spiritually? How do you do that?

The bridge between this external work and our spiritual world is Pranayama, the fourth limb, simply described as conscious breathing. The link between the body, the mind and the spirit is our Consciousness. Through the asana practice, we learn to read the body and the brain, like a textbook. We stay in the pose and use our intelligence and our breathing to explore further and further. And this is where the Western depiction of yoga loses its way. We improve and evolve, not by ability but by education, by becoming cultured in our practice. Like seasoned wood, which does not change with external conditions, we need to season our consciousness so it is not disturbed by external fluctuations.

And the next step towards this is withdrawal of the senses, Pratyahara,  the fifth limb, when the asana practice has settled the body, the brain and the mind, and our consciousness is free to explore our inner landscape. Look at the chart above – you’ll notice the figure is lying down for this stage and then sitting up for the 6th and 7th stages of focus and meditation. We’re entering the realms of prana, energy, nadis and chakras, concepts that are relatively inaccessible to the Western mind, because they exist in many dimensions, and we don’t have a deep familiarity with philosophy.

So first we have to learn to walk. “Illuminated emancipation, freedom, unalloyed and untainted bliss await you, but you have to choose to embark on the Inward Journey to discover it … Penetration of our mind is our goal, but in the beginning to set things in motion, there is no substitute for sweat.” BKS Iyengar.

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Filed under Ashtanga, Iyengar, Mindfulness, Well-being, Yoga - Beginners, Yoga - Intermediate

Better breathing for you & your horse.

IH breathing.jpgOver many years as a Yoga teacher, I’m often surprised by how little we know about our breathing and yet how closely connected it is to the way our brains and bodies function. During one of his Intelligent Horsemanship demonstrations at Kingston Maurward in June 2016, Monty Roberts explained that horses respond instantly to the breathing patterns of their handlers and encouraged everyone to learn diaphragmatic breathing. It occurred to me that not many people in that audience would have a clue what that meant so I offered to practice with Scarlett, whose lovely but nervous ex-racehorse Tabby won everybody’s hearts at the demonstration and wrote this piece for Intelligent Horsemanship (UK).

When the human body responds to danger and stress through the ‘fight or flight response’, the release of adrenaline triggers changes in our bodies which speed up the heart rate and breathing. This sudden burst of adrenaline gives our bodies increased abilities, and heightens sensory perception. However, it’s not a pleasant state to be in – we feel stressed, frightened and anxious – some people can ‘freeze’ under these circumstances, like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

Horses have very much the same responses as we do, and as prey animals, their ability to turn and fight, or to run away quickly, is paramount to their safety. Monty says, “Adrenaline up, learning down”. Scarlet wanted to teach her horse Tabby new things and to encourage her to respond differently to things that had possibly caused her pain or stress in the past but how could she help Tabby to feel less stressed, frightened & anxious?

Studies have shown that we humans can encourage our bodies to release chemicals and brain signals* that make our muscles and organs slow down and increase blood flow to the brain, the opposite of ‘fight or flight’. Studies have also demonstrated that meditation and breathing can bring down our stress levels, release tension and so help all kinds of health problems that are caused or exacerbated by chronic stress.

But horses can’t ‘breathe themselves down’ like we can. They measure the anxiety level of the rest of the herd by observing the breathing, heart rate and body language of those around them. In a training and learning situation Scarlett wanted to help Tabby by regulating her own breathing, slowing her heart rate and adopting the relaxed body language which gives horses comfort, and tells them everything is OK – they don’t need to prepare to fight or flee.

I sent Scarlett some breathing exercises. At first she said it made her feel very sleepy. Later, she said, “I can now do the exercise in different circumstances, with out thinking about it. I also wanted to let you known that I have found it very useful when working with Tabby.”

The Method:
You need to find a quiet place and time to focus on your breathing. The best time to practice is first thing in the morning for ten to twenty minutes. By practicing just once or twice a day you can learn to access relaxation and a more peaceful state of mind, which in turn reduces the heart rate so your horse will feel more relaxed and comfortable around you even when you’re asking him/her to try new things: ‘adrenaline down, learning up’.

  1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
  2. Allow your body to relax, soften your muscles, starting with your feet and progressing up to your head.
  3. Relax your tongue. Take it away from the roof of your mouth. Now your thoughts are quieter and you are more aware of your breathing. Breathe through your nose: mouth closed, teeth apart, jaw relaxed.
  4. Let the breathing become slow, soft and steady. Each time you breathe out, say the word “one”* silently to yourself.
  5. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes**. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.
  6. Try to ignore your thoughts – they will come and go – return to repeating “one”* with each exhalation.
  7. Practice the technique once or twice daily, on an empty stomach. (Digestion interferes with the process.) Soon, the response will come with little effort and you won’t feel quite so sleepy!

*Choose any soothing, mellifluous sounding word, preferably with no meaning or association, in order to avoid stimulation of unnecessary thoughts.

** If you use a phone alarm, choose a soothing sound to ‘wake up’ to.


If you’d like to know more, please do contact me HERE.
Monty Roberts:
Intelligent Horsemanship:


Bo (at the back) and Benjy, doing what comes naturally.

Copyright: Hannah Lovegrove, Saddle Street Farm, Thorncombe, Dorset TA20 4PY


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Filed under Breathing, Equestrian Yoga, Mindfulness, Relaxation, Well-being

Helpful ideas for losing #summerholiday #endofterm #stress

The past few months has been a struggle so we can be forgiven for feeling we have a very short fuse and need a very long holiday. No one should underestimate the health problems associated with stress – it’s the single biggest cause of long-term absence from work. More importantly though, it exacerbates, and is the cause of, all kinds of illnesses and if you need a list, there’s one below.

It’s easy to blame modern life and say that there’s not much we can do about it. BUT it has always been like this – the human body is no different to any other mammal with the ‘fight or flight’ response – the hormonal and physiological changes are more or less the same. I recently wrote an article on how horses respond to stress and how we can help them to relax by regulating our breathing, our heart rate and body language. What’s also interesting is that their ability to engage and learn is in inverse proportion to their stress levels. “Adrenaline up = learning down”, says Monty Roberts. Does the same hold true for humans? Probably.

More recently, think how stressed people must have felt during the Second World War. A friend told me about her grandmother in the East End whose advice to a fearful, tearful young mother was, “Roll up your sleeves, take a bucket of soapy water outside and scrub that front step.” And there you have it – recognition of her struggle, exercise, fresh air, contact with neighbours and people walking past – all the elements required to manage stress. But more than anything, sometimes I think we just need a practical way to pass the time.

Stress is nothing new, which is a thought I find (perversely) rather comforting! The success with which we cope with stress requires the ability to recognise our own stress levels as they build up. Then we need a strategy at the ready to deal with them. If you’re reading this because you already feel overwhelmed there are two things you can do immediately:

01 AMS heelsFirst: BREATHE – slowly, steadily, smoothly – regulating your exhalation so that it’s even from beginning to end. Take your tongue away from your upper palate. Sit up straight. Inhale again. As you slowly exhale, silently say the word, “ONE” as you breathe out. Inhale, slowly exhale silently saying “One”, and repeat several times. Do you feel a bit better?

Second: Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Dog – it’s the band aid of all poses. Go up from hands and knees, hold, stretch your arms and legs, come down and go up again, staying a little longer each time.

Then: we need a strategy, a basket of goodies, a toolkit of things you can choose from in all circumstances. You can write all these onto post-it notes, stick them round the mirror, incorporate them into your daily routine. Do let me know how you get on…..(see below).

1. Communicate and interact with others. It’s hugely important to communicate your feelings to someone going through similar experiences. Speak from your heart, encourage them to do the same. Whether you laugh together or cry together, there is often tremendous beneficial release. Why? Because when people are “in their hearts,” and not just their minds, the collective support helps to lift your spirits, which in turn releases the build up of stress and anxiety.

Talking2. Re-connect with your heart area. This is especially true after a shock, when it’s normal  for our heart to feel shut down. (Think of those phrases associated with this feeling – I haven’t got the heart, my heart sank, etc., etc.) When you experience a sense of loss, anger, fear or despair, it’s important to re-open your heart and connect with people, even in a very small way. If you find it hard to ‘unlock’ at first, animals can sometimes help as a bridge and open up your ability to be compassionate to another person. Practice random kindness – even small acts of kindness and compassion can make a big difference. Why? Because this is one of the quickest ways to re-establish your footing and reduce the stress that could otherwise affect your health. Research has shown that care and compassion release beneficial hormones that help balance and restore your system. Much stress can be reduced by caring for and interacting more with others.

 3. Count your blessings. At the end of a yoga class, after Savasana, I sometimes encourage students to count their blessings. Practicing appreciation and gratitude seems to be very helpful in restoring emotional balance. The appreciation needs to be heartfelt, not just from the mind. Why? Because  appreciative feelings activate the biochemical systems that help diminish stress and stabilise our psyche, and this helps us to reconnect with feelings of hope and gives us the initiative to move forward.

4. Decrease drama. We tend to spin thoughts of blame, anger, “doom and gloom” projections about the future around in our heads. This can be especially acute at night when we can’t sleep. We make things worse by being ‘in our heads’ and engaging with this Peacegloomy monologue, which adds drama to a situation that’s already less than ideal. This stunts our intuitive discernment, which is the very thing we need to find the most effective ways to navigate through challenges. (Adrenaline up = learning down.)You may not be able to stop all the internal drama, but you can try not to engage with it – instead, get up and do something practical (but not screen-based), even in the dead of night, rather than sit in that miserable puddle of worry. Why? Anger, anxiety and fear release excessive levels of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, throughout the body which cause a cascade of physical health symptoms, along with potential mental and emotional imbalances. As you practice reducing drama, the energy you save helps restore balance, clarity and positive initiative, even after a sleepless night. During the day, sharing our feelings from the heart with others reduces the tendency to keep amplifying and repeating the downside of situations.

5. Manage the amount of news you watch, and your reactions to it. This is a tricky one, but it has made a huge difference to me. Economic, political or global instability can compound our stress by projecting worst-case scenarios as we watch, read or listen to the news. Many people are afraid to watch the news because they dread what they might see and yet they’re afraid not to watch it in case they miss something important.  If you must watch/read/listen, resist the temptation to rant or obsess over the negative downsides of the news item. Manage how much negative emotional drama you attach to events or disappointing information because this is where a large portion of our stress accumulates. You can use the news as an opportunity to practice being in ’emotional neutral’. There’s a difference between evaluating an issue and emotionally obsessing over it. Practicing ’emotional neutral’ can help us manage our emotional energy expenditures and avoid stress overload. Why? When we are experiencing high anxiety and depression, cutting back on news can help lower the intensity of our fear and anxiety. Experiment to see if cutting back helps you, as it has many others who are experiencing high anxiety. (BTW – we shouldn’t judge the media. We are responsible for what we watch and how we react to it. It’s our job to balance and manage our exposure and our perceptions of how the news affects us.)


No mud, no lotus – Thich Nat Hahn

6. Take a little quiet time for prayer or meditation. Feeling compassion for yourself, for others, and feelings of gratitude, are all forms of prayer or meditation. These practices help quiet the mind and encourage a new perspective that can restore hope and direction. Why? Research has shown that sending appreciative or compassionate feelings to other people or issues can have a beneficial effect on the hormonal and immune systems. Prayer re-connects us with ourselves and with each other. Sending appreciation, care or compassion to others also helps to balance the nervous system and create heart rhythms more beneficial to our health. This helps balance your mental and emotional system, which then reduces anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed. So prayer is good for you, and it’s good for the planet.

7. Heart-focused breathing to reduce stress and anxiety. Practicing breath control is very helpful for reducing anxiety, stress, anger and mild depression. Why? Studies have demonstrated that meditation and breathing can bring down our stress levels, release tension and so help all kinds of health problems that are caused or exacerbated by chronic stress. With conscious effort, we humans can encourage our bodies to release chemicals and brain signals that make our muscles and organs slow down, and increase blood flow to the brain, the opposite of the ‘fight or flight’ response. This gives us a chance to look more closely at the stressor and work out a better way to deal with the problem, rather than bashing it over the head or running away. (See below for a guide.)

8. Exercise. It’s chicken-and-egg: stress can make us feel lethargic and un-motivated, especially if we’re short of sleep. Remember: using energy creates more energy so take what little you have and do that dog pose, walk to the shop, go and find a view to look at. You won’t need a total workout to help clear your thinking and stabilize your emotions. Experiment and find what’s comfortable for you, but at least try to get your heart rate up every day, even for a short time. Why? Exercise won’t take away your reasons for feeling stressed, but it will help you to manage stress with less energy loss. And getting out there will do all the same things as scrubbing the front step did during the war.

A few other thoughts:
9. Comparing the present with the past – the good old days. I said that I find it comforting to know that the human race has felt stressed for millennia, so much that the philosophy, art and science of Yoga was developed centuries ago to manage it.  If you have had a crisis or a major life change, it is hard to stop comparing the way life was before with how it is now. Healing heartache doesn’t respond to schedules or agendas but we can trust that, in our own time, we will start to regain some stability and be able to move forward with life. It just might take time and so we need our tool kit to help us through.
10. Sleep. Many people don’t sleep well for all kinds of reasons, maybe directly due to stress or perhaps because of unhelpful habits – late night TV, alcohol, erratic meal times, poor diet, lack of fresh air and exercise. We’ve all been there! So get what sleep you can and try not to make that into another drama. Don’t lie in bed and engage with the drama scarlettor try to make decisions. Get up and do something helpful or useful, like the ironing, read a book, practice your breathing exercises, or do some recuperative yoga. Nothing bad will happen before morning. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”

11. Reducing Fear. Fear is a normal response to uncertain and challenging times and is natural for our protection. Prolonged fear, exaggerated by drama, eventually creates harmful hormonal and immune system responses that compromise our health. Ask yourself – should I be afraid, or would some healthy caution be more helpful? The difference between these two can make a big difference in what hormones are released in your system.

12. Engage with your family. Keep communicating with family and close friends about the stress that everyone is going through. (You may even help someone else to manage their stress.) If someone is snappy or irritable don’t take it personally and do explain it to children, and reassure them that you can work things out in time. Work with them on simple stress-busters – carpet yoga, play at meditating, encourage them to think of all the good people they have in their lives.

13. Don’t blame yourself. Moving forward is easier without carrying baggage and guilt about what you should have done. Substitute the words ‘should’ with ‘could’ – there’s something liberating very about it. Above all, be kind to yourself.


Teach yourself breath control for managing stressful situations, click HERE.

Read Dr David Servan-Schreiber: Healing Without Freud Or Prosac.

For a no-nonsense guide to the wide-ranging effects of stress, click HERE.

Herbs that can help: HERE.

With grateful thanks and much respect to Doc Childre at the Heart Math Institute who has produced a De-Stress Kit for the Changing Times some of which is paraphrased here.

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Filed under Boost Your Immune System, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle Changes, Mindfulness, Relaxation, Well-being

Yoga Days with Lovegrove Essentials.

Lovegrove Essentials Yoga & Spa Days at Saddle Street Farm are ideal if you want to organise something special for a group of friends, or give as a gift to someone you love. If you have any special requirements please let us know – we’re very happy to work with you to provide a relaxing and nourishing experience for your group.

Your spa day can be tailored for you with combination of a yoga class, massage therapy, beauty treatments, a make-up lesson, hair styling and nails; plus a delicious, healthy lunch.

Hannah Lovegrove – Iyengar Yoga Teacher with many years’ experience offers high-quality yoga classes in a fully equipped studio. Hannah is also a qualified masseuse and beauty therapist offering tinting, waxing, pedicures etc.
Hayley de Beers – top London make-up and hair artist.
Daniel Stevens – gifted chef and food writer, and author of the River Cottage Bread Book.

The Lovegrove Essential Day Spa packages:
£85 – Yoga Class with Hannah, lunch and a Massage Treatment.
£90 – Yoga Class with Hannah, lunch, and an hour with Hayley.
£125 – Yoga Class with Hannah, lunch, a Massage Treatment, and an hour with Hayley.

For accommodation we recommend local B&B – Mary at Chapel End, Liz at Fulwood House and Lucy at Oathill Farm – all about 10 minutes from Saddle Street Farm and very reasonably priced. Please ask for details.


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Filed under Beginners etc., Boost Your Immune System, Healthy Eating, Iyengar, Lifestyle Changes, Mindfulness, Relaxation, therapy treatments, Well-being, Yoga - Beginners, Yoga - Intermediate, Yoga - Therapeutic, Yoga Days, yoga weekends

Iyengar Yoga home practice sheets.

These yoga routines are designed to be simple and easy to use. You may need some equipment, but most can be substituted with things you have at home. The first six sheets are suitable for all levels. The last two are suitable for more experienced students.
If you have any questions or comments, please use the box below.
With best wishes, Hannah.


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Filed under Beginners etc., Boost Your Immune System, Iyengar, Lifestyle Changes, Well-being, Yoga - Beginners, Yoga - Intermediate, Yoga - Therapeutic, Yoga Routines

How does yoga help lower anxiety levels?

There is an interesting article at Psychology Today on yoga stating :”Evidence that yoga can enhance anxiety-killing neurotransmitters in the brain”:

01 Urdhva Pras PadWhy does yoga help and a flood of alcohol hurt? Well, the money is on GABA. Gamma-aminobutryic acid is a neurotransmitter I’ve made brief mention of before. GABA is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the mammalian nervous system. It cools things off and chills things out. People with depression and anxiety have been shown to have low amounts of GABA in their cerebrospinal fluid. MRI spectroscopy has been used to estimate the amount of GABA in people who are depressed, and the levels are low compared to controls.
In 2010 the same group at BU did a second, somewhat larger study comparing walkers and yoga practitioners. Again, healthy people were studied, not anyone with psychiatric illness. This time, 19 yoga practitioners and 15 walkers did yoga or walked for an hour three times a week for twelve weeks. The yoga practitioners reported improved mood and anxiety compared to the walking controls, and MRIs showed increased GABA in the thalamus (a part of the brain) of the yoga practitioners compared to the walkers. The increase in GABA correlated with the decrease in anxiety scores, which makes sense. Since there is a body of evidence that exercise is helpful in depression and anxiety, it is interesting to see that yoga could be even more helpful than regular exercise.
See HERE for the full article.

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Filed under Relaxation, Well-being, Yoga - Therapeutic

Yoga for Detoxification – Alcoholics, Drug Addicts and Aids patients.

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October 11, 2013 · 2:01 pm

Alkaline Foods

Alkaline foods

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July 24, 2013 · 6:16 am

Colds & ‘Flu – protection through a healthy immune system

Research is beginning to show the relationship between emotional stress and the depletion of the immune system, and suggests that, alongside all the practical and nutritional advice, we need to find healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety to keep the immune system functioning well.

01 Savasana knees supportedYoga is therapy for the body, mind and spirit. Combined with an understanding of the relationship between food and healing, we have at our disposal a powerful tool-kit to strengthen our body’s defences and speed up the healing process. Click HERE for a yoga routine to strengthen your immune system.

BREATHE – try this while you’re reading. Sit up. Breathe slowly in through your nose. Relax your jaw and your tongue. Slowly and steadily release the breath through your nose and ‘watch’ as your lungs become empty. Pause……. breathe in again, softly and smoothly, pause……. and slowly, steadily breathe out, ‘watching’ right through to the end. Let your breathing return to normal. You have just improved your cardiac cohesion.

Defend yourself against Colds and ‘Flu – in Chinese medicine, these are  called ‘exterior’ conditions and are often easiest to treat and cure while they are still showing exterior symptoms.  They become harder to treat when they become ‘interior’. (See below for the early signs.) Their effects are first felt in the parts of the body exposed to the exterior – the skin and the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and lungs.  So to defend against these viruses, we need to strengthen and support these areas in our bodies. Here are some suggestions:

Make your own Vitamin C –  if you are bean sproutsalready eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and veg, Vitamin C supplements are probably not necessary. Research shows that large doses of synthetic Vitamin C can be counter productive and can lead to the depletion of some minerals, plus other complications. So alongside the usual vitamin C-rich foods, consider the following:

  • Foods high in Vitamin C include sprouted seeds – a cheap and highly nutritious food you can prepare yourself at home. Keep a selection of alfalfa, aduki, chick peas, lentils, mung beans, sunflower seeds, the list goes on…, in your cupboard and sprout away. (Scroll down for a short ‘how to’ video.)  N.B. If you tend to feel the cold, always steam or sautée your sprouted seeds.
  • To promote a healthy gut, I recommend a daily dose of live natural yogurt – sheep, goat, or soya. For the ultimate daily dose, with many other immune-boosting ingredients plus anti-oxidants and protein, see my Immune Boosting Smoothie recipe.
  • Pau D’arco – to cleanse and strengthen the intestines, this amazing herb is helpful in pau d'arco teapreparing the body to fight infection. Take regularly as a tea – it tastes lovely! If you tend to have intestinal problems, IBS or Candida for instance, try the capsules, which also contain Goldenseal (see BELOW). Along with a dietary clean-up, no sugar, alcohol, wheat etc. these will help to clean, tone and strengthen your intestines.
  • Astragalus – one of the key uses for astragalus is to improve immune function. astragalus capsOne of the ways astragalus is thought to work is by increasing the production of immune cells. It may also have mild antiviral activity and help with the prevention of colds. Use Echinacea/Goldenseal (See BELOW) should you notice signs of colds or flu.
  • Light your oil burner  – keep the atmosphere around you as healthy as possible, in the home and at work. Vapourised, oil burnerthese essential oils can help to combat air-borne viruses and bacteria.
  • Oregano oil is exceptionally antiseptic and it also has potent anti-viral properties.
  • Tea-tree oil  has similar properties, and is very helpful for coughs, colds, sore throats and breathing difficulties.
  • Take a handkerchief with oregano or tea-tree oil into any situation where there is air conditioning, especially on a flight.
  • To ease breathing difficulties, both tea-tree and oregano are useful as vapour inhalations. Put 3-6 drops in 4 pints of very hot water and breathe the vapours, with your head under a towel if possible. (You can use them this way in the house, if you don’t have an oil burner.)
  • Add a few drops of either tea-tree or oregano oil to rinse water for laundry and for wiping down surfaces.

Sweat therapy has been used as a preventive and as a remedy in the early stages of colds and ‘flu for millennia – think sweat lodgeNative American sweat lodge, Scandinavian sauna, British hot toddy!   Sweating during the early stages helps to rid the body of the virus and defend against its deeper penetration into the body.

  • Make a herbal hot toddy – drink a cup or more of diaphoretic herbal tea, such as yarrow, chamomile, catnip, peppermint, or fresh root ginger. Add lemon juice and raw honey to the tea if preferred. Take a hot bath or shower, cover in blankets and sweat. (Do not sweat to the point of exhaustion, however.) After sweating, change to fresh bedding and clothing, and rest. If baths are not convenient, drink the tea every half hour until sweating is induced. Once is often enough for this process, but it can be repeated twice a day until the exterior symptoms lift. (N.B. Sweating in this way is only helpful for people who are normally in robust health. It is not suitable for people who are weak or unusually thin.)
  • Echinacea and Goldenseal – used periodically, this powerful combination fights inflammation and ech golds tincturebacterial and viral infection. It also stimulates certain white blood cells so is good for the immune system and the lymphatic system. You can take it in capsule form or  as a tincture (my favourite, but you may need to modify the taste). Keep some handy and if you notice any symptoms, start to take it. Don’t take for more than 8 weeks.

BREATHE, slowly in through your nose, lift your chest……. and breathe steadily out. Pause…. and do that once more. Relax your jaw, relax your tongue. Breathe in, lift your chest, pause……. and slowly breathe out, following your breath right to the end.



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Seeds marvellous seeds!


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July 11, 2013 · 7:11 am

A Smoothie – the best breakfast.

For a morning kick start and smooth ride through your day, put these into your blender:

200ml milk ( a mix of soya & coconut is my favourite, but use goat, cow, etc)

1 chopped banana

2 tsp Green Lightning  with power-packed superfoods and oceanic algae like spirulina, chlorella, and Pacific kelp, Green Lightning delivers energizing, purifying nutrients for vibrant, exhilarating health and vitality. Algae are nature’s superfood indeed.

2 tbsp live yoghurt (soya, goat, cow, etc)

Add a handful of fresh or frozen berries – raspberries, blueberries, etc. (Frozen gives a very cool smoothie, both temperature and colour!)

Now whizz with abandon, and drink BOTH glasses or you won’t make it to lunchtime. (If you have teenage daughters, make double the quantity. Trust me …. I’m a yoga teacher….)

If you refuse to be levered out of your toast-and-marmalade habit, at least get some Sun Chlorella. You’ll be so glad you did.


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No mud, no lotus – Thich Nat Hahn

No mud, no lotus - Thich Nat Hahn

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June 11, 2013 · 5:19 pm

Don’t worry – be happy!


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May 28, 2013 · 6:21 am